The Importance of Estate Planning

According to various sources, more than half of all Americans die without estate planning. When this occurs, a state court must decide who will get the assets and, if the person has any children, who will care for the assets. Although estate planning is most associated with the wealthier class, many financial advisors state most individuals can benefit from it. In fact, many explain that it is better to start earlier rather than later.

How might this become problematic? If an individual dies and survives an unmarried partner or wished to leave their assets with a favorite charity, the court will more than likely pass the assets to the closest blood relatives instead. For this reason, individuals should be sure to list their specific desires in their will should they wish to direct their assets to specific parties in the event of their death.

One of the most overlooked elements of estate planning deals with updating beneficiaries on financial assets, such as:

  • Retirement accounts
  • 401(k) plans
  • Life insurance policies
  • Regular bank accounts

Beneficiaries Must Be Updated

Experts explain that as individuals move through different milestones in life, it is important that they change their beneficiaries. One financial planner explains one situation he had with a client who, after divorce, updated his will to exclude his ex-spouse. However, because his beneficiary designations were not updated, his ex-spouse was entitled to his retirement account assets.

What if No Beneficiary is Listed or the Beneficiary Has Already Passed?

In these types of cases, assets automatically go into probate, which is when the assets are used to pay off any debts, and the remainder is distributed to heirs. Each state has laws that govern the amount of time creditors have to make a claim against a descendant’s estate. This timespan usually lies between 6 months to a year.

Our Legal Team Can Help You with Estate Planning

At Carlson & Burnett, we understand cases involving estate planning and probate can be highly complex and emotionally taxing, and that is why we stand ready to provide you with legal assistance. When you choose to work with our Omaha estate planning lawyers, we will examine every detail of your situation and determine which strategies can best safeguard your future and the futures of your closest loved ones. Remember, it is best to take action sooner than later, so we invite you to call us right away.

To speak with a member of our team, call our Omaha estate planning attorneys at Carlson & Burnett today. We will be your advocates, advisors, and family friends.


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